Since its formation in September, 1999, the MDC has passionately called for the need to have a land reform policy that affirmatively targets historically disadvantaged people, most of whom are blacks who were ruthlessly confined to barren and over – crowded communal lands by successive racist colonial governments. Thus, the land reform program is an integral component of the MDC policy on land and agriculture.
Our main bone of contention with the haphazard land reform program that was instituted by the Robert Mugabe – led Zanu PF regime in 2000 was its violent and uncoordinated trajectory. As a result of this ill – planned and poorly – executed land reform exercise, the country’s commercial agricultural base was decimated as several top Zanu PF politicians and other politically well–connected individuals selfishly and corruptly awarded themselves huge tracts of arable farm land that they couldn’t efficiently and competently manage.
From being the bread basket of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe rapidly deteriorated into a basket case and a net importer of food as the agricultural industry suffered considerable damage from the violent and unsustainable land reform program that was unleashed by the Robert Mugabe–led Zanu PF regime. To this date, millions of Zimbabweans remain food insecure and our country is now importing most of its food requirements, particularly from neighbouring South Africa.
The need for a holistic and sustainable land reform program can never, ever be over–emphasised. Indeed, it was grossly unfair and immoral to have more than 90% of Zimbabwe’s arable commercial farm land in the hands of less than 6000 white commercial farmers whilst the majority of the black population was squashed in the then tribal trust lands. The armed liberation struggle was bench – marked on the need to re–dress the colonial land occupation policy that deliberately discriminated against the majority black population. The MDC is a social democratic political party that firmly upholds the values and ethos of the armed liberation struggle against racist colonial exploitation and subjugation.
An MDC government will ensure that all those Zimbabweans who were resettled under the land reform program are given security as owners and occupiers of their pieces of land. We will also capacitate the resettled farmers to ensure that they are provided with the requisite farming skills as well as financial support to make them viable farmers who can be able to feed their families and also to produce agricultural commodities for export. Resettled farmers will be empowered in such a way that they will be able to grow and expand the country’s agricultural base. The MDC will also institute a land audit that will unlock all under–utilised land for re – distribution to deserving Zimbabweans regardless of race, colour, creed or political affiliation.
In fact, the MDC would like to call upon all its supporters who are in need of agricultural land to promptly apply for land allocation at the relevant government departments. All deserving Zimbabwean citizens, including MDC supporters, shouldn’t be ashamed of applying for land under the land reform program.
The MDC has never been against the underlying principle of land reform. All we have been clamouring for is that the land reform should be undertaken in a holistic, sustainable and non–partisan manner. Those Zimbabweans who grabbed several farms under the land reform program should be made to relinquish these multiple farms and remain with only one farm per family to enable other landless Zimbabweans to also benefit from the land reform exercise. The land reform program shouldn’t be abused and bastardised in order to create land barons.
MDC: Equal Opportunities for All
Obert Chaurura Gutu
MDC National Spokesperson